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Fields Empty Fields

Post by skfarblum on September 21st 2013, 2:02 am

Over the past century and a half, field theory has transformed physics as a science. It has also changed our view of reality. As theoretical physicists now see it, the core of nature is nothing more substantial than waving fields. As Carroll told us, fields are “the true reality” while the apparent substance of matter – its solidity and point-like concentration – is an artefact of our limited powers of perception.

And so we return to our original question: what exactly are these fields? If fields are “states of space”, what exactly is “the state” that is changing here? At the end of Carroll’s lecture, I put this question to him. His answer, after a considerable pause, was both illuminating and confounding.

Each state of space, he said, was a matrix of numbers, one number for each point in space. As a field changes, what is really changing is the value of the numbers.

Carroll seemed simultaneously elated and a bit dazed by this idea. For myself, I could not help thinking of the film The Matrix, in which Keanu Reeves’s character discovers that the world he has known all his life is actually a computerised simulation generated by the matrix.

http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/features/are-we-just-numbers-in-the-matrix/

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